This article was originally published on The CEO Magazine.
Defining your organisation’s DNA is key to successful corporate communications. Here’s why, and how you can start.
Why does your business exist?
What sets your organisation apart from competitors? What makes you special? How do you want to be perceived?
All too often, executives in organisations aren’t on the same page when it comes to this basic question — let alone the team — and then they wonder why customers don’t ‘get it’.
Communication the DNA of an organisation
It’s important to articulate and communicate the essence of an organisation — its DNA, if you will — as a foundation for consistent, effective external and internal communication.
The DNA is a summation of why the business exists — its mission (what it wants to achieve), its vision (what the world will be like when the mission has been reached) and its values (the road rules you are committed to following).
With the DNA clearly articulated you can then begin to formulate and align the key messages you want your target audiences to hear and remember about you.
Key messaging helps drive your business objectives and goals
Key messages aren’t advertising tag lines. There are also not words for words sake. They are a succinct summation of your brand, company and offering. They help drive your business objectives and goals — they frame your overall communications.
When we work with organisations, we start the key message building process by auditing materials and tools to identify what key messages are currently being used and, almost inevitably, inconsistencies in those messages.
We survey executives and team members, asking where the company wants to be and how it wishes to be perceived. We also talk to clients and suppliers and sometimes the media — all of this to inform a workshop where we tease out and articulate the desired messaging for the organisation as a whole, and targeted messaging relating to particular audiences and/or sections of the organisation.
Overarching key message
The most challenging message to develop is the ‘overarching key message’ — a one-sentence statement encapsulating who the organisation is and what its about.
The next step is to establish the organisation’s communications pillars, or key themes such as community, technical excellence and safety.
Also important is to articulate the organisation’s ‘voice’ or tone. (Is it cheeky and fun? Sober and serious? Down-to-earth?) These then inform the organisation’s ‘word bank’ — preferred words and phrases that staff can endeavour to include in their communications.
Getting your communications foundations right is work, and does require investment, but it pays off in a number of ways including:
- Better cut-through, courtesy of consistency of message
- Time saved through use of pre-considered key messages, company boiler plates and elevator pitches
- Thoughtful communication, tailored to each audience, rather than ad hoc messaging developed on the fly
- Having the executive team ‘on the same page’
- Communications that truly align with your organisation’s vision, mission, goals and objectives.